Recent developments in Rip Curl/North Korea factory issue
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 22 February, 2016 - A few days ago it came to public attention that Rip Curl had two styles totalling 4000 units of Rip Curl ski wear produced in North Korea at a garment factory where worker conditions are known to be exploitive and dangerous.
In the original report an Australian businessman touring the Taedonggang clothing factory in North Korea witnessed Rip Curl jackets having "made in China" labels sewn on them.
Since the original report Rip Curl has issued a public apology on their Facebook page which met with a torrent of comments condeming the brand for its practices. At the center of the comments storm is the question of whether Rip Curl knew of the infraction prior to being caught.
Rip Curl said it was made aware a few months back that some of its garments had been found in North Korean factories, and “took immediate steps to investigate and rectify the situation”.
“All of our suppliers know that our terms of trade prevent them diverting production to non-certified factories and we do undertake factory inspections and audits to try to prevent this happening,” Rip Curl said on their Facebook page.
“In this case we took immediate action to discipline the supplier for his breach and we are increasing our inspections and audits. Regardless of this, two styles totalling 4,000 units of Rip Curl ski wear did slip through and was shipped to customers.
The comments in response to Rip Curl's statement ranged from anger at the company: "You are just another disgusting company exploiting the poor and destitute of 3rd world Countries. I do not believe what you say.."
To condemnation for the hypocrisy of some of the commentators: "They (Rip Curl) made a mistake. How many of you lot bother to find out where the items you buy are really produced. You claim the manufacturers have the responsibility. Well try taking ownership as a buyer. Most of you are wearing or own items produced in a sweat shop."
News Australia reported that none of the three biggest surf companies in Australia, Billabong, Rip Curl and Quiksilver, have published a list of the factories they use. Billabong complies with a global standard on working conditions, however Oxfam considers the process weak because it only requires internal review by Billabong.
More on this story as it developes